Public service update from York Council

Its good to see that some departments at the York Council are providing updates on public service standards. Even better, that some Councillors have chosen to brief the information on to Parish Councils and Residents Associations.

For those living in areas where Councillors maybe less “on the ball”, there follows a summary of the information provided.

Grass Cutting

The changing weather we saw this summer led to fluctuations in the rate of grass growth, which led to standards dropping below the normal at times, but generally our resources coped, we are part way through the last cut of the year on most types of grass areas.

Hedge Cutting

We are part way through the last of three cuts to hedges in snickets and communal housing areas.

Spring Bedding

We have just started the planting of over 18,000 spring bedding plants in the parks, gardens and tubs across the city, these will provide welcoming colour in spring, as visitors continue to return to the city.

Street Cleansing

Summer was certainly a very challenging time for this part of our service, mainly due to the change in use of some of our open spaces and the bins in and around them.

These areas were at times covered in litter and debris due to the irresponsible actions of some residents and visitors who seemed to think that just because we were no longer in lock down, they had the right to treat the city and our staff with contempt, by leaving ‘rubbish’ strewn across these areas, something I’ve never seen before on a sustained basis.

However our team, with the help of additional resources and the Enforcement team managed to return the city to its normal standard as soon as possible on a daily basis.

We also managed to assist the Minster with their litter clearance whilst their staff were furloughed.

Highway Weed Control

I think I can say with confidence that this year’s programme of weed control has been a success we have received very few complaints and re-growth between treatments did not exceed what we would normally have expected to see.

Leaf Clearance

We are now at that time of the year when not only do some members of the public throw litter about, but Mother Nature joins in, in the form of leaves!

We will be commencing our leaf clearance programme on Monday 26th October, and this is scheduled to take place for the next six to eight weeks (if my crystal ball is correct!)

The leaf clearance will be undertaken using both mechanical and manual means.

We will have two trailer drawn leaf vacuums, our teams will use these to remove leaves from pavements and grass verges.

Our two large mechanical sweepers will be targeted at streets with trees, using the local knowledge of our staff, members and reports made by residents.

These leaves cannot be recycled because they are cleared from nearby to or on the roads and are treated as contaminated waste.

As always we cannot see and clear every street at one time, so we would be grateful if Councillors could do the following:

  1. If you aware of leaves that are causing a ‘danger’ i.e. on a major footpath, near a school, elderly persons home etc.  and are wet and slippery, please report these to member enquiries, if not a ‘danger’ please monitor and we will get there!
  • Once the main leaf fall is over, if there are leaves, which appear to have been missed, please pass these through member enquires and we will attend to them”.

Good work from the Council there.

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Public service standards improving in York

Good to see that some street level public service standards are improving in west York. As we observed some months ago, the health crisis caused a rethink on street cleansing with a neighbourhood management approach producing better results. This has improvement has generally been sustained

The York Council had a challenging time in 2019 when parts of the City were blighted by weeds following the award of a poorly specified treatment contract. This year the streets have been largely clear of weed growth following the award of a new £58,000 contract to Munro Weed Control.

There are still some problem areas (snickets, back lanes, garage forecourts) but generally standards have improved.

Some progress seems to have been made on long term, seemingly intractable, problems such as rubbish storage and fly tipping in the Front Street back lane area. Notices have now been displayed indicating the penalties for fly tipping. Most rubbish storage areas are now tidier although there are some exceptions

Less good news on highways maintenance. There are still too many uneven road surfaces including long outstanding problems in the School Street area in the Acomb. White line repainting is also behind schedule.

The Councils new graffiti removal service has been successful although utility boxes and some private boundaries are still subject to attack. The utilities in particular take a long time to clean their boxes. We’d like to see the Council team undertaking this work and more effort being made to fine those who are responsible.

Good to see local bus shelters have been repainted. Missing or damaged perspex panels need to be replaced at some locations
Anti social behaviour has been an increasing problem in some neighbourhoods recently

Streets getting quieter

Sadly with good weather comes more weed growth. A particular problem in the pedestrian area

Managing waste storage

Much of the litter we see around the area can be traced to poor storage arrangements. These commercial bins in back Front Street were overloaded to point when rubbish was likely to be blown around the area.
Little Green Lane garage area looking overgrown and neglected again

On a more positive note, we were pleased to see that the Ashbourn Place gate access to the Foxwood Park has been repaired, following action by local Councillor Stephen Fenton

Foxwood park gates
We’ve reported again the weeds growing on footpaths in the Dijon Avenue/Kir Crescent area. The weed treatment programme this summer has been better than happened last year, but some locations have been missed.
Also disappointing to see that the Severus Street back lane is subject to dumping and overgrowth.
Meanwhile thanks to the efforts of parishioners and volunteers most of the St Stephens churchyard continues to provide an oasis of calm in the heart of Acomb village. The Roseday Avenue end is difficult to keep tidy in the fast growing conditions which we are currently experiencing. No doubt the church would appreciate having more volunteers.

Footpath obstructed

Such a shame that the York Council seems once again to have taken its eye off the ball. While endlessly agonising about – and focusing expenditure on – pedestrian activities in the City centre, the suburbs remain neglected.

One public footpath on the A59 near Poppleton is now blocked by overhanging branches. The same stretch had a similar problem last year. Pedestrians are forced to walk on what can be a busy carriageway. Makes a nonsence of “social distancing”

Nearby by weeds are growing in the gutters on the road and in the underpass at the junction with the A1237.

The council doesn’t seem to have an inspection regime in place which identifies issues (even those that reoccur regularly) before they become an inconvenience to residents.

Footpath impeded near Poppleton
Weeds in gutters on A59
Weed growth on underpass

That was the week that was in west York in pictures

Several suburban shopping streets need a tidy up. We asked for bins at Foxwood to be emptied but the Council now needs to provide more support for businesses that “soldiered on” during lock-down providing lifeline services for some.
Still too much graffiti on utility boxes in the area. Two more reported in the Dijon Avenue area this week
Rain and wind have brought detritus down blocking some drainage channels. We’ve asked for those in Kingsthorpe to be swept.
The footpath at the high numbered end of Tudor Road has been levelled. It had been damaged by tree roots. We expect that the problem will reoccur
However the nearby footpath on Tudor Road is still blocked by overrunning Yorkshire Water works

A major problem across the whole of the City are rapidly growing weeds. The Councils contractors have been seen out spraying but they will have been hampered by wet weather.

As a result many back lanes, footpaths, snickets and cycle paths are now obstructed.

This can be a hazard particularly for the partially sighted.

Hopefully residents, who see an issue near their home or business, will deal with it themselves.

Weed growth and other issues can be reported 24/7 via the Council web site ” click “Report it”

Most often knocked over traffic bollard? Fastest growing thistles?

Is this the most frequently damaged mini roundabout keep left sign. Located at the junction of Askham Lane and Ridgeway, no sooner is it repaired and another large vehicle – or careless driver- knocks it over again. York Council needs to come up with a better solution.
Thistles are now partly blocking the cycle path at Knapton. Not sure whether this is on the York Council weed killing programme? It should be. It would be a shame to lose this, increasingly well used, cycle link to Rufforth for lack of maintenance.
It would be a shame if the York Council was to be allowed to continue to neglect the Front Street area. More must be invested in improving maintenance standards. However, there are now new opportunities for regeneration. The Councils decision to (effectively) evict disabled drivers (blue badge holders) from the City centre could prompt the reopening of Front Street, for this category of motorists, on at least a couple of days each week. They would then be free to park nearer the shops (disabled parking spaces are currently limited). Cyclists would also benefit. “Social distancing” is made easier because of the shop forecourts. Add in some music/entertainment, street stalls and a high profile marketing campaign and the area could soon be buzzing again. .

That was the week that was in west York in photos

Bachelor Hill looking very smart including the wildflwoer meadow.
We’ve reported the damaged fence at the Cornlands park play area. The play area is due to officially reopen later this week following the health lock-down.. The fencing was provided to prevent fouling by dogs.
Another shopping trolley has made a break for freedom. This one on Tennent Road
We are still waiting for the goal posts on the Westfield park to be repainted. Been outstanding for three years now. Pitch also needs remarking before the new season starts.
Lots of weed growth as a result of the weather this week. Particular problems in Chapelfields and on Askham Lane.
Weeds overgrowing the bus shelter on Foxwood Lane again. The Council owned shelter is now looking very shabby now.
Damaged utility marker sign on Grange Lane is still lying on the verge despite being reported in January.
More snickets now obstructed by overhanging trees.

That was the week that was in photos

Good to see some patching work on the Herman Walk carriageway. Like the roads in the rest of the area a lot more work is needed if they are to be brought up to an acceptable standard.
Disappointing to see the safety barriers disassembled on Chesneys Field. They were put there to stop children using the play equipment at the height of the Coronavirus crisis. The Council now needs to decide whether it is going to continue to try to stop the equipment – which is not fenced off normally – being used or simply remove the equipment. Perhaps a reminder sign about hygiene could be put up?
Two shopping trolleys have made a break for freedom. One was last seen on Gale Lane while a second had made it as far as Cornlands Road. Both have been reported
& the wetter weather has seen weeds growing more quickly in gutters. We’ve reported those in The Reeves. We are about due to see the next round of weed treatment

More trees coming but what about maintaining existing ones?

More trees are set to be planted this year as part of the Councils response to climate change. 50,000 are promised.

Officials say that the programme has been delayed by the heath scare although little progress seems to have been made in securing sites for the “forest”.

Over the last few months, residents have laid informal claims for the use of some unused areas of land on the City outskirts as informal exercise areas. These would be a good place for the Council to start looking for locations for planting although it does own several sites, including some near the river, which could accommodate more trees.

Informal walks through Acomb Wood, and the like, have brought home to more people the value of informal leisure space. Any Council initiative is likely to have popular support if it is pressed through quickly now.

Hopefully they will remedy the mistakes of the past and avoid planting inappropriate species of trees too close to paths and highways.

We have already learned that nearly £500,000 is required to repair part of the York – Selby cycle path which has been badly damaged by tree roots. One lesson is the need in the future to install “root shields” at vulnerable locations.

Roots damaging cycle paths

There are similar problems in the urban area

Root damage on snicket link to Thoresby Road. We’ve reported litter and weeds on the same snicket.
Similar hazard on Tudor Road
In same cases private hedges are now obstructing footpaths
The Council have now promised to trim the branch which is obstructing a footpath in the Kingsway West area
Weeds on Front Street. The council has treated some weed growth around amenity trees but has missed others. Doesn’t seem to be any consistency in their programme.